Expedition News
August 2014 – Volume Twenty-One, Number Eight

EXPEDITION NEWS, founded in 1994, is the monthly review of significant expeditions, research projects and newsworthy adventures. It is distributed online to media representatives, corporate sponsors, educators, research librarians, explorers, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. This forum on exploration covers projects that stimulate, motivate and educate.


The mystery surrounding the disappearance of the 1845 British Arctic Expedition commanded by Sir John Franklin is the most enduring in polar exploration history. This summer, the Government of Canada's search for the lost Franklin ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, will be enhanced by the inclusion of Canadian leaders in exploration, assembled with the help of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS).

The partnership, which includes The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, One Ocean Expeditions, Shell Canada and the Arctic Research Foundation, will add resources, technologies and expertise to the hunt, focusing on the Victoria Strait, which up to this point has largely not been targeted by search teams. The Victoria Strait is significant - it includes the last reported location of the missing vessels and crews.

The loss of the Erebus and Terror have played an important role in the exploration of Canada's North and its mystique. The vessels were trapped in ice off the northwest coast of King William Island in what is now Nunavut.There was little left behind by the crews after they deserted the ships. No survivors were found alive to tell their tale.

The mystery surrounding the missing ships has become the stuff of Canadian lore that has inspired songs, stories and the imaginations of Canadians. The search has over time cemented Canada's understanding and connection with the North. Moreover, much of Canada's claim to sovereignty over its Arctic islands can be traced to the significant geographical advances made because of the Franklin search era.

This summer, the expedition team of experts, researchers, and others will be in the search area for a 10-day period. One Ocean Expeditions will deploy the One Ocean Voyager equipped with navigation and scanning equipment (including multi-beam sonar) and a state-of-the-art autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).

Team member Joseph Frey

"The 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition will be using technologies not used on previous 20th and 21st Century Franklin expeditions. One new piece of kit will be a synthetic aperture sonar from Defence Research and Development Canada. It is a military-grade, guided torpedo-like vehicle that can gather three-dimensional data with fine-grain definition along its search tracks," says team member Joseph Frey. "It has the advantage of being more stable than side-scan sonar."

Shell Canada is contributing to the expedition and to the development of the classroom educational program designed to excite interest in exploration history but also leverage public interest in broader issues concerning Canada's Arctic.

Because of their importance, the ships were declared National Historic Sites in 1992, the only such designation applied to sites that remain unknown. Since 2008, the Government of Canada, headed by Parks Canada, initiated active searches for the missing ships. Though the ships have not yet been found, more than 746-mi./1,200 square km of the Arctic seabed has been surveyed during the course of modern searches.
For more information


An American climbing dream team will attempt to determine the highest peak in Myanmar starting this October. There are two primary candidates: Hkakabo Razi and Gamlang Razi. Hkakabo Razi has been considered Myanmar's highest peak since British botanist Francis Kingdom Ward explored this region in the 1930s. Hkakabo was climbed in 1995 by Japanese mountaineer Takashi Ozaki, who later died on Everest. Gamlang was climbed in 2013 by an American team lead by Andy Tyson.

According to Tyson's GPS readings, Gamlang appears to be taller than Hkakabo Razi, however, accurate measurements have not been taken on the summit of Hkakabo. The six-person team hopes to climb Hkakabo (and perhaps Gamlang), to verify its elevation which currently stands at approximately 19,295-ft., according to Jenkins, based in Laramie, Wyo.

Team members are: Hilaree O'Neill, leader; Mark Jenkins, writer and expedition coordinator;Cory Richards, photographer; Emily Harrington, climber; Renan Ozturk, videographer; and Taylor Rees, base camp manager.

Jenkins estimates it will take 15 days of tough jungle trekking, using porters to travel through tiger-infested areas, just to reach the mountain - making it more remote than Everest or the North Pole. The team will carry a Juniper Systems GPS which uses 12 satellites instead of the traditional two or three. It can measure accuracy down to one meter.

Sponsors include National Geographic and The North Face.


Breathe Easy Nepal 2014 Seeks to Battle Hidden Killer of the Himalayas

The Himalayan Stove Project project we wrote about in EN in February 2014 will return to Nepal this fall during the post-monsoon season to gather data on how its donated stoves have been performing. The Breathe Easy Nepal 2014 team, led by George Basch, 77, of Taos, N.M., will work with a local Rotary Club in Nepal that has helped distribute the small clean burning cookstoves to Gamcha, a village near Kathmandu. Data will be gathered with the assistance of Dr. Bruce Johnson, director of The Human Integrative and Environmental Physiology Laboratory of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

The organization, established in 2010, donates and distributes free, clean-burning, fuel-efficient, fully-vented Envirofit cookstoves to people of the High Himalayas. It eliminates the choking, life threatening smoke spewed out by "traditional" cooking campfires on the floor of kitchens, or from inefficient cookstoves in most Nepali homes.

She's pleased with her new Envirofit cookstove

Worldwide, Household Air Pollution (HAP) is responsible for 4.3 million premature deaths annually - one of the world's biggest killers. Clean cookstoves, which efficiently burn wood, yak dung or crop waste, help reduce that deadly toll.

Over 3,000 have been distributed to date in Nepal.

The team hopes to prove that as a result of using the more fuel efficient stoves, the Nepalese will experience a reduction in respiratory illnesses (e.g. asthma, COPD, respiratory infections), improved respiratory health, and improvement of other health problems (e.g. low birth weights, stunted growth, nutritional deficiencies, and cataracts).

Sponsorship for the Himalaya Stove Project continues to be sought with adidas already on board. Money will be used for travel expenses, the purchase of stoves, and completion of a documentary, The Hidden Killer of the Himalayas.

For more information: George Basch,

Grandma Paddler Has 12 States, Two Countries to Go

Kayak for Safe Passage's Deborah Walters, Ph. D., is a 63-year-old grandmother of four from Troy, Maine, paddling from Maine to Guatemala to benefit the children living in and around the huge Guatemala City garbage dump. At press time she was south of Boston near Plymouth, just beyond the first leg of her planned 2,500-mile solo kayak expedition (See EN, February 2014).

      Deborah Walters is paddling for kids.

Walters is propelling 385 pounds of supplies through the water in a Chesapeake Light Craft kayak (a custom redesigned Chesapeake 18), full of camping gear, food, water, clothing and lots of technology. Fighting the currents and confused seas, dealing with dense fog, and being snagged by a fisherman are some of the challenges thus far, she tells EN.

"I've camped on pristine wild islands, and been hosted at tony yacht clubs. In every town, people tell me that the next harbor along is the one where they almost lost their boat on the rocks or got swept away by the strong currents. It's a good thing I am not easily frightened, and can use their advice to double-check the charts and other navigation resources."

She has 12 states and two countries to go. Walters has an enviable 47 mostly in-kind sponsors to date, the top four being Broadreach PR, Chesapeake Light Craft, Polaris Capital Management, and L.L. Bean which provided gear and clothing for field testing. She's hoping to find a $50,000 level sponsor for kayak and expedition naming rights.
For more information:

Explorers Club Tells Johnnie to Keep Walking

A New York court has ruled that Diageo must now stop using the Explorers' Club brand name after the New York Supreme Court granted a permanent injunction. Diageo said it would appeal the ruling, according to an Aug. 6 Wall Street Journal story by Peter Evans.

The judge ruled Johnnie Walker Explorers' Club, a range of the blended Scotch whisky sold in duty-free stores, profited from an unsanctioned association with the 110-year-old club of the same name (See EN, April 2014).

"It is clear that Diageo's adoption of the name of the Explorers' Club was for the purpose of leading the public to believe that it was connected or affiliated with the club," Judge Charles E. Ramos ruled, adding that Diageo had profited "to the tune of approximately $50 million in sales" since the launch of Explorers' Club in late 2012.

Diageo "has indisputably profited enormously from the purported unlawful and disputed use of the Club's name," Judge Ramos said.

Although it makes up only a small proportion of the 20 million cases of Johnnie Walker sold each year, losing the Explorers' Club brand would be a blow to Diageo.
Read the story


Everest Tragedy is Referendum on Risk and Inequity

Lapka Rita, the famed Sherpa who summited Everest 17 times, fought back tears as he recounted the deaths of 13 Sherpas and three other Nepali climbers buried when a giant serac casued an avalanche that roared through the Khumbu Icefall on Apr. 18. At the time Lapka Rita was in base camp. During an Aug. 7 presentation in the Sherpa Adventure Gear booth at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake, he said, "I tried my best to hide my tears in front of my Sherpa teams. There was no way they could have escaped the avalanche zone."

In 2013, he was honored by Outside Magazine as an Adventurer of the Year for his role in orchestrating numerous rescues after several high mountain accidents.

Norbu Tenzing Norgay, eldest son of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, Sir Edmund Hillary's climbing partner in 1953, called the recent tragedy a "referendum on risk and inequity." He added, "What happened will happen again on Everest. We feel Everest has become a cash cow and anyone going to Everest should ask what are the ethics of the (guide) companies they are working with.

Lapka Rita (left) and Norbu Tenzing Norgay at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market (photo credit: Tracy Frankel)

"The amount of risk Sherpas bear are far greater than they should be taking." Norgay, vice president of the American Himalayan Foundation, reports that when Sherpas died in the early 1970s, they received $100,000 in today's dollars. But benefits now are only $15,000.

Tashi Sherpa, founder and CEO of Sherpa Adventure Gear, summed up the somber presentation by saying, "We are not here to condemn anyone. ... profit is not a bad word, but profiteering is. ... the status quo cannot be in the status quo any more. ... I'm more sad than furious."

Polar Photographers: Bring Plenty of Digital Cards

Lee Narraway, official photographer of the Students on Ice (SOI) expeditions, has been traveling to the Arctic for 15 years. She provides advice to budding photographers in a story that appeared last month on the SOI blog.

Narraway says, "My passion is the wilderness but I never imagined a paradise like Antarctica where I can be surrounded by over half a million wild creatures and none of them are afraid of me. The stunning scenery and patterns of nature all combine to make this a sacred place for me."

She advises, "You are about to be immersed in the magic and beauty of the polar regions. Shoot lots of images. Try to look for simple uncluttered compositions that will tell your story.

"Technical notes: bring LOTS of cards... I shoot 800 to 1,000 images a day (I admit to being out-of-control), extra batteries, battery charger, polarizing lens is effective on SLR cameras, cleaning tissue or cloths for your lens. Please protect your camera; it does not thrive in salt air or water so keep it covered when you are in a moving Zodiac. At least three cameras per expedition get broken, usually by sitting on them or dropping them...have a neck strap for the camera and keep it in a sturdy case when not in use," Narraway recommends.
Read the rest of her interview
Narraway's website
Students on Ice



1879 Voyage Is a Time Machine for Climate Change

A doomed Navy expedition kept exacting records that show the rapid weakening of the polar ice cap, according to an essay by Hampton Sides in the Wall Street Journal (Aug. 2).

They were trapped in pack ice north of the Bering Sea, yet for every hour of the day for two years, a group of U.S. Navy explorers in the early 1880s, led by Lt. Cmdr. George Washington De Long, braved the freezing cold and took measurements of air and sea temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, ice thickness and drift, as determined by the ship's daily position. It was arduous, sometimes tedious work, and De Long wondered whether his notations would do the world a whit of good.

Over 130 years later, an international team of climatologists and historians, working with the National Archives, has dug back into those historic logbooks and started digitizing and analyzing De Long's work. "The data De Long gathered is quite valuable and amazingly thorough," says Kevin Wood, a scientist affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The Jeannette was well-equipped for science, and it was the first vessel ever to go through that part of the Arctic."
Read the essay

Like Going to Disneyland

The 2012 expedition by James Cameron to the deepest part of the ocean is the subject of a new film titled, "Deepsea Challenge 3D," according to a New York Times story by Mekado Murphy (Aug. 3). Speaking about his dive to 35,787 feet, Cameron says, "All of my nervousness about the dive was before, like the day before I'd stop and think about it for 10 minutes," he said. "But when I was there and closing the hatch, I was just excited to see what was down there, like a kid in the car going to Disneyland."

New Yorkers Take to Bouldering

Bouldering is booming in New York, according to a July 16 story in the Wall Street Journal by Bob Eckstein. Some of the most popular spots are in Central Park and the Cloisters, with names like Rat Rock, Cat Rock, and Life is Beautiful. "Certainly there is more socializing here than with traditional mountain climbing," he writes. Says one boulderer, "One friend of mine uses a climbing forum as her dating site. I don't think she could date a non-climber."
Read the story

Uncharted Waters

In the weeks after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished, most likely in the Indian Ocean, Australian officials said they knew less about the area they were exploring than is known about the surface of the moon.

It's actually even worse than that.

Surveys of Mars and Venus are considered around 250 times more accurate than existing maps of the underwater region where Flight 370 searchers are looking - a lightless, virtually lifeless seabed.

The hunt for Flight 370 has been overshadowed in recent weeks by the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down in Ukraine, but it remains one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. Unlike the Ukraine tragedy, which left tons of debris, not even a stray suitcase has been found from Flight 370, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 passengers on board, leaving little more than a trail of cryptic satellite transmissions behind as it diverted off course.

In the Aug. 1 Wall Street Journal, Daniel Stacey explains how technology is being used in the search.

Tastes Like Chicken?

One of the actors in the new reality series, Ice Lake Rebels, comments on her daily fare in a July 26 New York Times story by critic Neil Genzlinger. The Animal Planet series follows a small group of people who live on houseboats on Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. Says one woman in the show about a Shackleton expedition staple, "Seal meat's the greatest. Don't hate me for it. They're so cute, I love them, but they're delicious."


There's Money in the Cloud

The goal of the Cloudbase Foundation is to enable hang glider and paraglider pilots to give back to the communities they fly high above.

As we learned in a fascinating Outdoor Retailer Summer Market conversation with Nick Greece, editor of USHPA (Hang Gliding and Paragliding) magazine,the 501(c)(3) volunteer organization provides advice on how to develop small scale localized, sustainable projects. For example, development of hang glider schools in Pokhara, Nepal, that enable locals to become self-sufficient through establishment of adventure tourism companies focused on flying.

"We work with community leaders to determine the need," Greece says.

Hang gliders have fixed wings and the pilots lay beneath in a prone "Superman" position; paragliders are specially-designed parachutes that fold into backpacks.

For more information

Budding Explorers Vie for $50,000

It is said that exploration is imagination acted upon, and now National Geographic Channel (NGC) and 20th Century Fox are launching a crowdsourced search to find the next generation of inspiring explorers.

Developed by digital agency Campfire, a unit under SapientNitro, the Expedition Granted competition invites contestants to submit a video up to two minutes in length and a Tweetable elevator pitch at outlining what their passion project is and why they deserve to have it granted.

It's part American Idol, part Kickstarter - anyone with an idea to explore uncharted territory - and the passion to follow it through - can enter to win the $50,000 award to make it happen. Submissions will be accepted through August 31, 2014. Only U.S. residents over age 21 are eligible.

The campaign is designed to broaden NGC's audience by conveying that explorers aren't necessarily Indiana Jones-type adventurers. Rather, the aim is to attract entrants from all backgrounds and disciplines ranging from art and music to food, science and technology.

Sponsors Jeep and Dos Equis are helping to raise awareness via their own social media channels.

For more information



Messner Keynotes American Alpine Club Annual Benefit Dinner, January 30 to 31, 2015, New York

Famed climber Reinhold Messner will appear at the 2015 American Alpine Club Annual Benefit Dinner in New York on January 30 to 31, 2015. Tickets include the dinner presentation by Messner, open bar, silent and live auctions, and access to other weekend activities including climbers gatherings and panel discussions. Price: $275 to $350, tel. (+1) 303-384-0110
For more information


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Advertise in Expedition News - For just 50 cents a word, you can reach an estimated 10,000 readers of America's only monthly newsletter celebrating the world of expeditions on land, in space, and beneath the sea. Join us as we take a sometimes irreverent look at the people and projects making Expedition News. Frequency discounts are available.(For more information

EXPEDITION NEWS is published by Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc., 1281 East Main Street – Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Tel. (+1) 203-655-1600 Twitter: @expeditionnews Editor/publisher: Jeff Blumenfeld. Assistant editor: Jamie Gribbon. Research editor: Lee Kovel. ©2014 Blumenfeld and Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1526-8977. Subscriptions: US$36/yr. available by e-mail only. Credit card payments accepted through Read EXPEDITION NEWS at Enjoy the EN blog at

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